FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The heroic actions of Pfc. Jesse Funk, Medal of Honor recipient, are etched in the DNA of his lineage. His great granddaughter, 2nd Lt. Vera Funk, is a second-year medical student and is studying to become a U.S. Army doctor. She is currently completing her pediatric clerkship at Womack Army Medical Center.
Jesse’s bravery and selflessness serve as an inspiration to Vera, as she embarks on her own military career.
The Funk family has had a family member serve in every major war, tracing back to Henry Funk, during the Revolution.
“Service is a value that is deeply embedded in who I am, and who my family is,” said Vera. “I feel honored to be able to contribute to my family’s lineage, by joining the Army in pursuit of becoming an Army doctor; alongside my sister, Capt. Sarah Broderick, who is currently serving as a U.S. Army Military Intelligence officer.”
When Vera was in the fifth grade, she was required to do a class presentation on who she considered to be her hero. Without hesitation, she chose her great grandfather.
“While most students chose a hero from a history book, I chose my great grandfather.
“To me, Jesse is the epitome of what it means to serve in the Medical Corps. It means putting the well-being and safety of others above oneself.”
A fifth-grade assignment and her family’s core values, sent Vera down the path to join the Army to become a physician. She has not decided what type of physician but is very interested in surgery.
“I feel very fortunate attending medical school at Uniformed Services University. Their motto ‘to care for those in harm's way,’ aligns perfectly with the goals I set for myself in fifth grade.
“From a young age, I was inspired by what the Medical Corps represented, and I wanted to be a part of it as a doctor, a decision that was heavily influenced by Jesse’s legacy and valor.”
Jesse’s son, Frank Funk-Argust, was an officer in Merrill’s Marauders, serving in the China-Burma-India theater during WWII. Frank’s son and Vera’s father, John Funk, retired as an Armor & Cavalry first sergeant after twenty-one years; to include service during Operation Desert Storm. Both Vera’s father and grandfather earned the Bronze Star.
According to the Defense Health Agency website, Jesse served with Company L, 354th Infantry, 89th Division, and was stationed in France during World War I. During a battle near Bois-de Bantheville, France, he accompanied Pfc. Charles Barger into a highly dangerous area known as “No Man’s Land,” and, as a combat medic, managed to rescue the lives of two wounded officers stranded in the open field. Jesse fearlessly made two trips to pull the officers back to safety.
In memory of his efforts, Jesse’s photo and citation is mounted amongst the WAMC Medal of Honor Hall near the Radiology and Laboratory department, on the first floor.
Soon after Jesse earned the Medal of Honor, he humbly wrote a piece to the Denver Post newspaper. His family stores the original copy in their archives.
“I remember one fellow in our company who would just lie and quiver and shake when the firing started, but when the signal came for him to go over the top (of the trenches), he was right there.
“To my mind he was one of the bravest fellows in the company. When a man can realize that he’s liable to be killed any minute and can force down his fear and make a good fight, he’s a brave man, in my estimation. And every time I saw that fellow quivering and shaking, it used to give me new heart, because I knew that here was a good example to follow. If I could keep up with him, I’d be doing my part.”